"Conservation is forcing people from the land"
One of the most common challenges levied at environmental projects is that they are forcing people from the land. We are committed to demonstrating that the complete opposite is true. We will modernise and restore derelict buildings, convert agricultural buildings and where possible develop new affordable sustainable homes for local people in the rural environment.
We will also create new opportunities for ecotourism welcoming more people to wonderful wilderness environments so that they can become better connected with the natural world and in the process become ambassadors and advocates for conservation.
"Conservation is forcing farming from the land and people need to eat"
Farmers are some of the best custodians of the natural world, perfectly balancing productivity with environment protection and ecological improvement.
We are committed to the Oxygen Conservation Portfolio being more productive under our stewardship. We will work with local communities, specialists and experts to farm landscapes regeneratively in a way that produces food, fibre and energy, improving the environment in the process.
We will continue to advocate for the important role farmers play and work hard to create opportunities for new entrant farms across our estates.
We will also continue campaigning for people to live and work locally, consume less but higher quality and higher welfare meat and for respect for food systems and soils.
"This is just rich people buying land"
We are hugely fortunate to be supported by a wonderful group of investors that provides us with significant capital to deliver positive environmental and social impact.
We believe that by buying land, protecting and improving the environment and in the process delivering a positive impact with profit as a result, not the purpose is the best way anyone can deploy their capital now and into the future.
"What do you know about living, working or farming here"
We don’t know anywhere near enough about the individual places and spaces where we are fortunate enough to purchase land. We are therefore committed to work with local communities to help shape the future of each site.
We have a wonderful group of local advisors, partners, employees and tenants but are always keen to hear from others. If you have thoughts and feelings about how we can create a better future for any of our portfolio of sites please get in touch.
“If you stop us fox hunting on your land, you’re destroying our culture”
We’re a conservation company. We are absolutely against trail hunting and won’t allow it on land owned or managed by Oxygen Conversation. We completely understand this may upset a small number of people in the local community, and this is of course not our objective, but we have to think bigger than ourselves. We are committed to preserving the biodiversity and habitats across our sites and our trail hunting prohibition contributes to the overall environmental impact we seek to achieve and will continue to remain our position as we Scale Conservation.
"How is travelling across the country purchasing land sustainable"
It really isn’t. We do everything we can to reduce our impact on the environment as we travel to find, purchase and manage each landscape.
We are all home based, we minimise travel when we can, where we do need to travel we prioritise public transport and electric vehicles. We carry reusables, we avoid plastic, we recycle when we do, we shop ethically and support local businesses when possible.
Like so many things about climate change we are all hypocrites and we cannot function without having an impact on the natural world. We however believe in measuring our net impact on the environment and unfortunately accept that we sometimes have to spend some carbon to save a lot more.
"I bet you fly everywhere don’t you?"
At the point of writing this piece we have taken a single flight to visit one site in the Highlands of Scotland. It was a largely horrible experience and one that causes significant self-reflection and guilt.
Life is about balance and we could not complete this trip and manage family commitments in the time allowed if we had travelled by electric vehicle.
We will continue avoiding flying where possible and where we do travel we will publish this in our annual report.
"You’re just after the subsidies aren’t you"
No. If anyone is trying to buy land to farm subsidies they really shouldn’t, it’s a terrible business idea and would almost certainly not cover the cost of owning the land.
"What about ELMS?"
Even if ELMS (Environmental Land Management Schemes) genuinely offers public monies for public goods this will be limited to significant landscapes and likely include multiple land owners aimed at ensuring landscape recovery but unlikely to provide any form of profit as a result.
We are currently involved in ELMS bids with a group of third sector partners including the National Trust, National Parks, Wildlife Trusts, Rivers Trusts, Woodland Trust, RSPB, Natural England and members of the local community.
"You’re going to let a load of wolves out aren’t you and they’re going to kill all the sheep"
Of course we’re not – it’s not possible even if we wanted to.
We are committed to supporting the reintroduction of animals lost to our landscape as a result of human activity. The Oxygen Conservation Portfolio is likely already home to beavers, pine marten, red squirrels, black grouse, curlew and many other iconic and threatened species and we would love to support the reintroduction of many more lost and endangered wildlife.
We also support the reintroduction of large scale herbivores, wildcats, Eurasian lynx and one day even wolves but sadly this is incredibly unlikely in our lifetime.
We are hugely supportive of protecting native rare breed animals including cattle, pigs, sheep and goats and throughout our custodianship of the land will work hard to create space for the right animals in the right places.
“You’re taking away my right to shoot grouse”
We’re a conservation company. We don’t believe in killing living things for recreation. We won’t allow grouse or other game bird shooting on land owned or managed by Oxygen Conversation.
We don’t believe in optimising an environment for any one species or land use. Instead, we’re committed to restoring natural processes and working with experts, partners, and local communities to operate rural estates of the future that deliver positive environmental and social impact.
“It’s outrageous we can’t burn the moor anymore!”
We think it’s outrageous that people ever did! We do not support burning anywhere and we won’t allow it on land owned or managed by Oxygen Conservation. This is especially important in protected areas, and on peatland (which needs to be rewetted, not dried, cut or burnt). We’ve taken from the natural world for far too long. Now more than ever, we need to give back.
“"Your Team isn’t diverse enough – you’re all men”
We’re not all men. Head over to our Team page to see all the wonderful faces that work to help Scale Conservation.
We embrace diversity of thought, experience and understanding in every role. We recognise both the environmental and financial sectors need to do more to welcome increased diversity. If you can help with this, we’d love to hear from you.
"But you’re not doing what the locals want you to do”
We do our best to listen to as many views as possible, whilst appreciating that we can’t consult or agree with everyone. We also struggle with the suggestion that all local people think the same thing – our experience is that this just isn’t true. We recognise that everyone has their individual views and, whilst we will listen to as many opinions as possible, we can’t always respond and we won’t always agree.
“You’re not spending enough time in the local community”
We completely agree. We’d really love to spend more time in each of the places where we’re fortunate enough to own or manage land, but we are responsible for sites across the UK and in some cases we don’t have team members living in or even near these communities. This is why we’re so open to local views, opinions and perspectives and they are a valuable part of our learning, planning and delivery on each of our Estates.
We’re also committed to providing homes for local people and ecotourism opportunities for others to experience thesewonderful places, contributing to the rural economy and the vibrancy of the local community. Thank you for wanting to see more of us, but we’re doing our best with the time and team we have to Scale Conservation.
"You call yourself a green company and you don’t like hydropower”
That’s absolutely correct – if you haven’t already, please watch the Damnation documentary by Patagonia!
Hydropower schemes destroy natural rivers systems and adjoining fish passes are often ineffective, creating a barrier to fish migration. In the coming years, dams will sadly be in a large part responsible for the loss of many migratory fish species. We recognise the need to generate renewable energy to facilitate a net zero transition but believe wind and solar offer more sustainable, less environmentally impactful options.
You will notice that in some areas we have acquired estates with existing dams in place. At Invergeldie, for example, we inherited a dam that provides energy to over 100,000 homes. While this dam is affecting the river system, seeking to remove it would impact the lives of thousands of people that depend on its supply of energy.
We appreciate that nothing we do is without impact and that we all need to make sacrifices and compromises to help Scale Conservation.